Curious Ingredient Number 3 : Paneer

Paneer: You have seen it in the cheese section of your supermarket, you may well have gone as far a picking it up and putting it down. It looks like a slab of...well a slab best description is: "a slab of", it is off white, it is cheese, it is very popular in Indian cuisine. Unlike other cheeses, it does not taste very much when raw and does not have a strong taste when cooked but has a nice and soft texture. Paneer is used in a myriad of ways and Pebble Soup readers' in India might want to comment and give us ideas or alternatively here is what good old Wikipedia says about paneer.

I often buy paneer it keeps for a long time unopened in the fridge and makes a welcome change to the same old menus. Curious ingredients have this ability to turn dreary shopping lists into somewaht rather exciting daily feasts.

As mentioned earlier there are numerous ways of cooking paneer, but I have only know 1 recipe which I found in the Hairy Bikers' cook book. Don't worry if you don't have all the ingredients there are 3 main ingredients here: Paneer, semoulina and spinach, the rest can be swaped, replaced by similar or simply dropped.

Crunchy Palak Paneer

For the sauce
2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
2 onions, finely chopped
7.5cm/3in piece root ginger, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 whole red or green chilli
1 tsp salt
1 x 400g/14oz can tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tsp sugar
500g/1lb 2oz fresh spinach, washed
2tbsp water
For the paneer
2 tsp garam masala
50g/1¾oz semolina
200g/7oz paneer, cut into 1cm/½in cubes
vegetable oil, for shallow frying
small handful coriander leaves, finely chopped, to garnish
1 tsp lemon juice

1. For the sauce, heat the ghee or oil in a saucepan, add the onion and cook for about three minutes until soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a further minute.
2. Add the ground cumin, ground coriander, ground turmeric, whole chilli and salt.
Tip : Cooking spices releases their flavour
3. Add the chopped tomatoes and sugar and simmer for ten minutes.
4. Meanwhile, turn your attention to the main ingredient: paneer,
Pplace the garam masala and semolina in a large bowl and mix well add the cubed paneer in and coat well.
5. In a Frying pan or a wok, eat the oil add the coated paneer and fry until crisp and golden.
7. Add the washed spinach and two tablespoons of water to the tomato sauce, stir in and cook until the spinach wilts.
8. Fold the paneer into the sauce.
9. To serve, garnish with the coriander and squeeze over the lemon juice.
At Pebble soup, we loved this recipe so much that it fast became a dinner favourite which I would like to share with the readers of Bangers and Mash via #TheSpiceTrail challenge.


Debra said...

Paneer is awesome! I'd love to make a gluten free version of this.
Do you think GF breadcrumbs or maybe blended oats would work?

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

There you are Debra, I saw you among the followers' icon. Nice to meet you. the semolina is there to give texture. I have tried without (once I forgot) and it is not as good but still OK.
Your best bet is corn semolina or polenta, it has got to be something fine so breadcrumbs might be too chunky.

Thanks for your comment

Debra said...

Great suggestion. A work colleague recommended I try making paneer yesterday in a completely unrelated conversation and said it was amazingly easy. Now I really have no excuse :) I'll definitely try corn semolina and let you know how it goes.

Solange Berchemin of Pebble Soup said...

Go for it and do let me know



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